(MURFREESBORO) Middle Tennessee State University’s campus and the surrounding community are again getting ready to roll up their sleeves for one of the biggest — and possibly the most critical — rivalry in the Blue Raider football season.
The annual 100 Miles of Hope Red Cross Blood Drive competition between MTSU and Western Kentucky University is set for 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, Sept. 25-27, at the gymnasium of the Student Health, Wellness and Recreation Center at 1848 Blue Raider Drive.
“The American Red Cross blood drive helps support Rutherford County and the MTSU initiative is one way to partner with the community and give back by collecting as many units of blood as we possibly can,” said Ray Wiley, MTSU True Blue Blood Drive chairman.
MTSU Campus Recreation will have 18 reserved parking spots available in front of their facility each day of the drive for on-campus and off-campus donors. A campus parking map is available at https://bit.ly/MTSUParking. Off-campus donors can also obtain a one-day permit at https://mtsu.edu/parking/visit.php or park free in the university’s Rutherford Boulevard Lot and ride the Raider Xpress shuttle to the KUC.
‘Huge impact in the lives of others’
Previously carrying the theme “Bleed Blue, Beat WKU,” the updated blood drive name is a play on the words of the rivalry between the football teams — dubbed “100 Miles of Hate” — which is the approximate distance between the Blue Raider campus in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, and the Hilltopper campus in Bowling Green, Kentucky. But the blood drive committee wanted to focus on the positive aspect of the event with the word “hope” instead of hate.
Whichever university garners the biggest number of donations wins the coveted challenge trophy to display.
In 2022, communities from MTSU and WKU gave over 830 units of blood combined. But the challenge trophy remained with MTSU after supporters donated 480 units to rival WKU’s 351 donated units.
Although MTSU’s 100 Miles of Hope blood drive committee aims to retain the trophy once again by topping WKU’s numbers, everyone wins in this competition.
“Giving blood is life saving and it makes a huge impact in the lives of others,” Wiley said. “And it’s a huge contribution that people make on the behalf of others.”
This year the collection goal is at least 400 units from MTSU donors.
Make an appointment if you can
Incentives for donors at the MTSU blood drive include $20 Amazon gift cards, a free Sports Clips haircut, a commemorative T-shirt, pizza, snacks and MTSU football game tickets.
Although walk-ins are welcome, donors are encouraged to make an appointment through redcrossblood.org. Search for the 37132 zip code and event date Sept. 25-27. Donors can also use the American Red Cross blood donor app or text “BLOODAPP” to 90999.
“Making an appointment helps our staff prepare and plan ahead for the number of people coming in to give,” Wiley said.
The blood drive remains a friendly competition between MTSU and WKU, Wiley assured. Both campuses will be collecting blood on the same days and times.
The drive will conclude the day before the Blue Raiders face off against the WKU Hilltoppers. Kickoff for the game is 6:30 p.m. Sept. 28 at Floyd Stadium.
Donor focus on sickle cell disease
This year’s MTSU blood drive is also focusing on helping patients with sickle cell disease.
The Red Cross needs African American donors to provide blood for patients with the inherited and extremely painful disorder, which distorts and hardens red blood cells. Those cells lodge in blood vessels, creating conditions ripe for strokes and organ failures.
Most sickle cell patients are of African descent — 1 in 365 African American births. Donor blood transfusions give them healthy red cells to unblock the vessels and carry oxygen to their bodies.
Black donors’ blood is often the best match for sickle cell patients because it’s less likely to cause immune reactions. The Red Cross has more details about the disease and how important lifesaving Black donors are at https://rcblood.org/3PHlK40.
To learn more details about the process and requirements for donating blood, visit https://www.redcrossblood.org/faq.html.
Blood drive in honor of dedicated staff volunteer
The 2023 100 Miles of Hope Red Cross Blood Drive will be in honor of the late Gina Fann, who passed away in August at age 60 after an extended illness.
An MTSU alumna, Fann was a member of the News and Media Relations team and served her alma mater as a communications specialist since 2004 and served many years on the university’s Blood Drive Committee leading promotion efforts before and after each year’s campaign.
“Gina was very dedicated to helping others and she demonstrated this by helping MTSU and the American Red Cross by serving as a valuable team member of the blood drive committee, of which she served since the inception of the drive in 2010,” Wiley said.